Obama Grants Waivers to NCLB and Makes a Bad Situation Worse

The president correctly sees that No Child Left Behind forces teaching to the test. But so do his solutions to that problem.

Secretary Arne Duncan is right about the No Child Left Behind law: It is an unmitigated disaster. Signed into law a decade ago by President George W. Bush, NCLB is widely despised for turning schools into testing factories. By mandating that every student in the nation would be “proficient” by 2014, as judged by state tests, it set a goal that no nation in the world has ever met, and that no state in this nation is close to meeting. The goal is laudable but out of reach. It’s comparable to Congress mandating that every city, town, and village in the nation must be crime-free by 2014 ... or their police departments would be severely punished.

NCLB is the worst federal education law ever passed. About half of all public schools in the nation have been stigmatized as “failing” because they couldn’t meet its utopian mandates, and the proportion is certain to grow every year. In Massachusetts, the nation’s highest performing state, 81 percent of the state’s schools are officially “failing” by the standards of NCLB. No national legislature